Back in January, American Express dropped a bombshell on most people in the manufactured spending community by terminating most people’s ability to load money on to their Serve (and Bluebird) cards. Note that they did not SHUT DOWN the accounts, but instead restricted the ability to load money ONTO the card. Since that is what most people in the travel hacking world were using it for, it did essentially kill it for those people. Once nice feature was that at least the money that was already IN the Serve account was still accessible.
My Serve account escaped the shutdown
My account was one of the accounts that escaped the bloodbath. At the time, I did not know why my account was spared when the accounts of most people (80-90% by my estimation) were hamstrung. We looked for some patterns, but as far as I could tell, there was no real pattern that we could determine. The two factors that seemed most interesting to me was that I was not a HEAVY loader ($5,000 every month every time) and my account was fairly new (opened in November 2015).
Ongoing Serve and Bluebird shutdowns?
One question that remained unanswered at the time was whether the shutdowns were a one-time thing, or whether American Express would be continually shutting down people’s accounts. Now we can know at least one data point. Here’s some of the text from the email I just received (bolding mine)
We are writing to let you know that we have observed unusual usage patterns on your American Express Serve Account. Because of this, effective immediately, you will no longer be able to add money to your Account.1 We have made this change in accordance with Section 15.d of our Consumer User Agreement, which you can view here.
Please be aware that you still have full access to the funds on your Account and can withdraw them at any time. Any applicable monthly fees continue to apply.
Here’s a screen shot.
So that’s at least one data point to know that ongoing accounts ARE still being monitored, and Serve and Bluebird are probably just as dead as we all feared. I know some people had opened up new accounts after the January shutdown, and so it looks like if you’re trying to load money to Serve for MS, that looks like it will be unproductive.
Anyone else get this email from American Express today?